The destruction wrought by the Russian invaders in Ukraine is immense ‒ 2 million square metres of residential floorspace alone has been destroyed. The total infrastructure damage to date is at more than USD 137.8 billion and counting. The international community will have to step in to help rebuild the country from the ravages of war and its assistance must be planned over the long term.
In our blog we chiefly focus on technology but we are not indifferent to the tragic events taking place across the border in Ukraine. Last May, at the instigation of our employees, we held a charity event in partnership with the Ukraine Foundation, with proceeds going to the Foundation.
Today we know that charity events are not enough so we asked ourselves how we can help in the long term and decided to invite business representatives and special guests to share their experiences.
UNITY4UKRAINE: A Space to Talk and Exchange Experiences
On March 21, 2023, a session was held in Kraków as part of the UNITY4UKRAINE initiative. Organized by Unity Group and the Ukraine Foundation in partnership with Kochański & Partners law firm, the event was attended by representatives of companies, mostly from the construction industry, that want to support Ukraine in its reconstruction efforts. Special guests included:
‒ Vyacheslav Voynarovshkyi, Consul General of Ukraine in Kraków.
‒ Serhii Kozin, Chief Project Officer, Ukrainian Chamber of Industry.
‒ Igor Lisin, Vice President of Ukraine Foundation; Anastasiia Tur, Head of the Department of Cooperation with Ukraine, Ukraine Foundation.
‒ Sylwia Krasoń-Kopaniarz, Managing Director, Group’s Head of International Operations, Impel.
‒ Jakub Krysa, Legal Counsel, Partner, Head of Public Procurement Law Practice, Kochański & Partners.
“For several months, our clients, including those in the construction, building and finishing industries, have been asking us to provide contacts to partners with whom they could talk about rebuilding Ukraine. Instead of passing on phone numbers, we decided to organize a meeting to exchange knowledge. Polish companies are looking for structured information on how and when they can get involved in the process of rebuilding Ukraine” – says Sebastian Blaszkiewicz, Sales Director at Unity Group, co-organizer of the meeting.
Vyacheslav Voynarovshkyi, Consul General of Ukraine in Kraków
Planning for the Rebuilding of Ukraine
Experts point out that rebuilding Ukraine will be a long process which could stretch for decades, but efforts are already being launched. The first priority is to restore the operation of critical infrastructure, such as hospitals, schools and disrupted communication lines. Energy, housing and demining are among priorities too. Ukraine is not waiting for the active phase of combat operations to end. Reconstruction efforts are underway even in regions that have seen intense hostilities. Early planning and a long-term focus are important to preserve the stability of Ukrainian society while the involvement of international business and other organizations shows that the process will combine both public and private resources.
“Sessions such as UNITY4UKRAINE are essential to build knowledge, exchange experience and ideas, create and plan joint projects, establish partnerships and help complete social missions,” said Anastasiia Tur, Ukraine Foundation.
Key for the success of the reconstruction of Ukraine’s economy and infrastructure is collaboration across sectors and involvement of private investors’ resources. Our UNITY4UKRAINE session offered the opportunity to exchange experiences and come to an agreement on key goals and risks involved in this process. It is vital to understand the needs of the Ukrainians and to meet them the right way. The Foundation buys and sends specific units and facilities cars, ambulances, fire engines, technical equipment, medicines, food, and also engages in direct actions, such as the renovation of a school in Ukraine.
Coming together to seek solutions and ideas on how to get involved in reconstruction efforts will make it possible to provide clever, well-considered assistance that will be most beneficial to all involved parties. Trust-based partnerships with NGOs and other organizations can develop into long-term relationships extending beyond the strictly business context.
Anastasiia Tur of the Ukraine Foundation said, “In the process of rebuilding Ukraine, it is crucial to be aware of the political, integration and economic processes and changes that will occur in post-war Ukraine, to be familiar with Ukrainian legislation, to analyze reforms and stay in contact with local governments that will initiate and supervise development projects as part of decentralization processes. One also needs to take heed of the needs and expectations of Ukrainian society as to what a rebuilt Ukraine should be like, as well as forging links and partnerships with Ukrainian organizations and businesses before entering the Ukrainian market.”
Sebastian Błaszkiewicz (Unity Group), Igor Lisin (Fundacja Ukraina), Sylwia Krasoń-Kopaniarz (Impel), Jakub Krysa (Kochański & Partners)
How to Get Involved in the Rebuilding Process?
Businesses can get involved in the process in several ways, such as starting a relationship with a Ukrainian business partner or NGO, or tendering for contracts. Currently, most efforts focus on ensuring the continuity of critical infrastructure in the areas that has been hit hardest and where immediate assistance is needed, but long-term efforts are being planned too ‒ one-off financial contributions are very important it is also key to build business relationships based on trust and to respond to the needs of the target groups/entities. One must also remember that a certain flexibility is called for as the situation in Ukraine does not conform to rigid rules.
During the UNITY4UKRAINE session, an array of different avenues of supporting Ukraine in its rebuilding process were discussed, including through participation in tenders announced on online platforms such as one created by the German government. An increasing number of programs are being launched but it’s specific information on how and when one can support Ukraine in removing the war damage not always easy to come by.
Presence of Companies in the Process of Rebuilding Ukraine
The Kraków session was also attended by representatives of Polish companies that have been supporting Ukraine since the war began. They have been raising money, hiring and supporting Ukrainian employees, as well as donating funds.
Due to its geographical proximity and strong links with Ukraine, including economic ties, Poland is becoming a logistics and competence hub for Ukraine’s rebuilding projects. Construction materials, equipment and qualified personnel will be needed. This will present a huge challenge and a number of risks as we are talking of a country where active fighting is still ongoing. However, the sum of money that will have to be allocated to rebuilding the destroyed infrastructure will be unprecedented too, totalling more than USD 411 billion according to one estimation. At our UNITY4UKRAINE session, representatives of construction companies expressed their willingness to join the process.
“AB Bechcicki is involved in various forms of support for those who need it. We provide aid when emergencies strike ‒ we have supported hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic and organized collections for Ukraine. Our company is willing to join in the reconstruction efforts in Ukraine. We are a nationwide distributor of building materials, offering products from more than four hundred suppliers and able to supply them to contractors and developers at good prices” says Jacek Gonet, Director of AB Bechcicki’s Kraków Branch.
Jakub Krysa, Legal Counsel, Partner, Head of Public Procurement Law Practice, Kochański & Partners
Companies active in the building, design and finishing industries want to join the process of rebuilding Ukraine, but there is a lack of structured information on how they can do that. We have prepared materials on this topic for event attendants and all interested parties. To receive a presentation pack, please email firstname.lastname@example.org including UNITY4UKRAINE in the subject line. You can also contact us on LinkedIn.